With the ever rising number of anti-trans bills and rhetoric in this country, it remains vitally important that there are therapists and healers who offer affirmative care.
Affirmative therapy seeks to validate the inherent value of the identities of those from LGBTQIA+ communities. There is an expectation that clients will be treated with the dignity, respect and affirmation they deserve, just for being a human being.
As an affirmative therapist, I seek to facilitate my client’s awareness, exploration and acceptance of their sexual and gender identities as part of our work. I acknowledge that there is often internalized transphobias and queerphobias to be unpacked and worked through.
I do not attempt to center their identity if they do not see it as central to their work. Nor do I ignore their identity as if it won’t flavor or influence their experience of themselves and the world and how the world treats them.
I seek to demonstrate that I am creating a ‘safe space’ in therapy. I put it in quotes because it is aspirational and as an imperfect human being interacting with new, unique human beings, I own that I may inadvertently cause harm. And when that happens, I strive not to become defensive, but to own the harm and seek to remedy it.
We need more affirmative therapists because too many trans folx have had bad experiences in therapy, with those who have questioned or invalidated their identities or experiences. This causes real harm and makes trans folx less likely to seek therapy again in the future, as well as increasing risk of suicidal thoughts and actions.
We as a profession have a duty to do no harm, to continue our professional growth so that we can appropriately serve gender diverse individuals.